By Estel Grace Masangkay
AstraZeneca and its global biologics R&D arm MedImmune announced four new collaborations with the University of Cambridge, all launched in an attempt to strengthen AZ’s existing partnership with the University as the company sets out to expand its research infrastructure in Cambridge.
The new agreements will involve neuroscience research, open access to AZ’s pipeline compounds, and build a doctoral training program for Cambridge’s PhD candidates, as well as an entrepreneur-in-residence program.
The first agreement will center on promoting R&D therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s. AZ and MedImmune will allow access to screening capabilities, molecular access, and drug development expertise while University of Cambridge will provide experimental models and tissue samples. The collaboration will aim to discover and validate novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases. The second collaboration will involve a pivotal Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) that will open the door to University of Cambridge scientists to access AZ’s investigational drugs, including EGFR inhibitor AZD9291 for non-small cell lung cancer.
Bahija Jallal, EVP of MedImmune, said, “We will work together to discover and develop new medicines that could have a significant impact on the health of patients with neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.”
The third agreement will establish a PhD program that will permit candidates to access MedImmune’s laboratories during their four-year studentship. The last agreement provides a separate mentorship program for academic researchers at the University who want to explore the commercial potential of their scientific programs.
“These new agreements will not only bring our teams closer to the world-class academic investigators at the University of Cambridge, but will also enable us to actively support the development of the next generation of leading scientists right here in the U.K.,” said Mene Pangalos, EVP of Innovative Medicines & Early Development at AZ.
AstraZeneca, MedImmune, and Cambridge’s collaborations in the past included a three-year oncology research program and co-location of up to 60 AZ scientists at the Cancer Research U.K. Cambridge Institute. Earlier this year the company also unveiled its plans for a £330 million headquarters to be built on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.